Too. Much. Fun.
But not too much. Just the right amount of fun. Ladies and gentleman, if you're looking for a relatively light read, with overtones of the theatre and English puppetry, and undertones of feuding rivers and power struggles, all sifted through the eyes of a police constable who has just discovered that magic is real, and he's been chosen to police it, then this is the book for you!
Step right up, step right up! Meet our star, Peter Grant, a young police constable who just knows he's going to be streamed into the branch of the police that helps the other branches of the police fill out their paperwork! Marvel as he runs into his very first ghost while guarding a very bloody crime scene! Prepare to get squicked as a wave of violence envelopes London and results in peoples' faces falling off! Hold your breath as he deals with the Gods and Goddesses of the various rivers and tries not to get caught in the undertow!
This book isn't going to change the world, but I enjoyed it every time I picked it up and never wanted to put it down. I want to run out and find the other two books that have been published right this very minute. I want to encourage them to have little book babies.
Peter is an amusing protagonist, and Ben Aaronovitch has a knack for turns of phrase that made me laugh out loud more than once. (Such as when, finding out that he's not going to be sentenced to paperwork, Peter informs us that as he left, he was definitely not skipping.) And the world he finds himself plunged into is so particular, the magic such an organic outgrowth of the history and geography of London and the Thames that I couldn't wait to see what was going to happen next.
And I'm a sucker for theatre stuff, and when the underlying causes of the wave of strange violence emerged, it both delighted me and creeped me out.
The supporting cast is just as strong as Peter himself, from Toby the dog, to Leslie the other police constable, to Nightingale the experienced magic officer, to Beverley the Brook, to Molly the whatever-the-heck-she-is, and while the narrative meanders a bit at times, they were always meanderings on which I was glad to be along. Magic isn't learned in a day, after all.
August 2013 addition:
I am new to audiobooks. But I just discovered I can borrow them from the library directly to my iPod. And that they're a great addition to the walking-everywhere I already do. But I'm still only listening to books I've already read - I don't tend to retain things unless I've seen them written down once. So Midnight Riot
and Moon Over Soho
were two of the first I downloaded. I would like to strongly recommend that people check them out. Kobna Holbrook-Smith is simply amazing, and the sheer variety of distinct voices he can manage is spectacular. I already loved this book a lot, and listening to it and the next one during my morning walks the last few weeks has been a pure joy.
Crossposted at Smorgasbook